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Nina Danino
Temenos means sacred site, ritual precinct. Temenos (1998), is a searingly beautiful invocation of the persistence of place, that has the power to inscribe contemporary political and social circumstances with the memories of the past, and to transform the landscape itself.

Nina Danino visited sites of apparitions of the Virgin Mary including Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorge in Croat occupied Bosnia where the Virgin is still said to be appearing. She films the landscapes that have witnessed these transcendental appearances, imbuing them with a sense of the sacred. They appear remote and mysterious, somehow occupying a place between heaven and earth. In the first section of the film the screen glimmers with a silver glow, as if the viewer is also witnessing an apparition. The viewers' eyes scour the screen for visible evidence of the divine, but what they are given is the magic and holiness of the space itself.

The landscape, with its intricate detail of twig and grass blade, links the specific thing to its universal form. The place is both local and unlocateable since the viewers are never told where they are. The viewer is taken on a journey, where they experience the raw exposure of emotion and haunting voices that penetrate the soundtrack. It is composed of extraordinary performances by operatic soprano, Catherine Bott, and voice performers, Sainkho Namchylak and Shelley Hirsch, who provide pastoral voices calling in the landscape, bitter weeping, gentle humming, unearthly sounds, sounds of nature, the scream of dementia and angelic arias.

Black and white 35mm film gives way to colour video footage of the city waking. A cacophony of media noises contrast strongly to the luminous photography of the sacred places, reminding us that a vision is a temporary experience, but simultaneously, permanent state within. It is this fleeting emotional state that the film grasps at and strives to represent. Like the land itself, the film embodies the ineffable and the transcendental but remains material and temporal.

The camera pans in circular movements giving a feeling of unworldly weightlessness. The memoirs of the Marian visionaries, Conchita Gonzalez, Bernadette Soubrious and the Medgorgjian children are spoken by the filmmaker over the now empty landscapes. Their words are particularly poignant in the case of Medgorgjia, the meeting point of Islam with Orthodox and Catholic Christianity and the scene of atrocities during the Bosnian war.

At the end of the film, Danino again draws from the work of Pasolini, this time, the final scene from The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964). After his Resurrection, Christ walks on the Sea of Galilee towards his disciples in a small fishing boat. The disciples are incredulous, but then realise that it is not contradictory that in a world where they need to fish, they can also witness the divine. Marxist filmmaker, Pasolini, imbues the Christian narrative with a social message of the dignity of working people that reveals the transcendental within a secular world. Like Pasolini's fishermen, the viewer has to live in the real world, but in this film for an illusionary period, the can visit the Temenos and know its frightening and beautiful secrets.

Still from Temenos by Nina Danino, 1998
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